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Childhood Is Not A Race

Recently our school received an advertisement for a learning center offering classes to jumpstart toddlers and preschoolers academic learning and give them a head start in kindergarten. As the fight for childhood continues, those of us in this field must speak up. Childhood is not a race.

A preschooler doesn’t need to spend time in tutoring to prepare for kindergarten any more than a baby needs to spend time in tutoring to become a toddler.  There is beauty and importance in each stage of a child’s development, and it’s our job as parents and teachers to protect that. 

How old were you when you learned to walk, to talk, and to use the toilet?  Regardless of the age, I imagine you can do all three quite successfully now.  The same is true for children when it comes to academic skills such as reading and writing.  By the time a child is an adult, it won’t matter what age they began to read or write any more than it will matter what age they started walking or talking.

Children deserve to fully develop at the age and stage where they currently are, without the pressure of “getting ready” for what is coming next.  There are important and fundamental skills to be developed at each age that correlate exactly to where their body and brain are at that time, and when adults push down skills earlier than children are developmentally ready to master them, it becomes needlessly stressful for both the adults and the children.

On every school tour I share that Kindergarten may have changed over the years, but children have not.  The way their brains grow and develop has not changed, and what a child needed many years ago is exactly what they need now.  Preschool age children need extended periods of time to play and explore, space to build and create, opportunities to try new ideas and master old ones, and trusted peers and adults with whom they can build relationships and develop their social and emotional skills. 

Childhood is not a race.

By Sarah Bradford

Valley Parent Preschool